One reason for what may be myths about population and political pathology is that population change is ordinarily associated with socioeconomic change, and change carries with it the high likelihood of at least some disruption. Some of the characteristic forms of behavior associated in the public mind with high population density may, in fact, be much more significantly related to the prevalence of poverty and discrimination.
Another reason is the neglect of the subject by serious scholars. In the presence of ignorance, the intellectual gap has been filled by opinion. For example, there is a feeling, quite unsupported by evidence, that people in densely populated countries are more prepared to behave in irrational ways and to seek remedies by violence for internal and external problems, because they value human life less. This feeling is supported sometimes by crude biological analogy and oversimplification of the complexities of the inter-dependency of demographic and social change.
Nevertheless, the beliefs concerning real or imagined political consequences of demographic behavior are of great political importance in themselves. Hearsay knowledge and ignorance are available to politicians, and, as in the case of lebensraum, can be used with great effect to convince people to adopt policies espoused by politicians for entirely other reasons. Clearly the only antidote to unverified hypotheses applied as guides to public policy or as sources of propaganda is to increase the sophistication of tested knowledge and to disseminate the results through public education.
In the following discussion of the political and social consequences of rapid population growth it is essential to bear in mind that the current concern about the negative consequences of this growth are set against the backdrop of powerful pressures to achieve new and higher levels of income, health, education, and well-being. These goals are given differing shades of emphasis depending on the society from which they spring, but it is safe to predict that in the developing countries of the world the great mass of people would happily embrace them all, sure in the knowledge that they need and want more of whatever they are. In an atmosphere of rising expectations political "solutions" have an ineluctable glamour.
Political Administration and Geographic Density
It is difficult to govern a large territory with a small and dispersed population. The high per capita costs of governing underpopulated regions increase the likelihood of conflict between central and subordinate government units when justice, health, and education remain locally based (as is usually the case) because of the difficult problems of transportation and communication associated with attempts by the central government to have continuing contact with the citizenry. This suggests that the larger the population, the more effective its government can be. because the oer caoita costs of sovern-shine returns: it would notelated collective consumption needs would stay largely unchanged for the better part of a decade, and